La Chamade (film)

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La Chamade
La Chamade Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alain Cavalier
Produced by Maria Rosaria
Written by Alain Cavalier
Françoise Sagan
Starring Catherine Deneuve
Michel Piccoli
Roger Van Hool
Music by Maurice Leroux
Cinematography Pierre Lhomme
Edited by Pierre Gillette
Distributed by Les Artistes Associés (United Artists)
Release date
  • 30 October 1968 (1968-10-30) (France)
  • 27 July 1969 (1969-07-27) (USA)
Running time
103 minutes
Country France
Language French
Box office $5,836,932[1]

La Chamade (English: Heartbeat) is a 1968 French romantic drama film written and directed by Alain Cavalier and starring Catherine Deneuve, Michel Piccoli, and Roger Van Hool. Based on the 1965 novel La Chamade by Françoise Sagan, the film is about a beautiful woman who is mistress to a rich, good-hearted businessman who provides for all her material needs, but for whom she has no true love. When she meets a charming young man her own age, Antoine, she falls in love. He finds her a menial job in a publisher's, but she can't or won't hold it down. Soon she becomes pregnant with his child. But Charles helps her through her crisis by funding her abortion (against the wishes of the father, Antoine, who nevertheless accepts,even though he planned on moving out of his charming bachelor flat, the three of them into a soulless concrete block, money being short. So she goes to Geneva where the nameplate on the door, indicating the abortion doctor, is V.I.O. Lenine. In the aftermath, her feelings for the younger Antoine fade. Eventually, she returns to the good-hearted businessman who has patiently waited for her.[2] La Chamade was filmed on location in Paris and Nice.[3] Seen again on Arte February 8, 2017.


A woman and a poor artist begin an affair and eventually move in together, but the woman cannot get used to his life, his working-class existence. She leaves her lover to return to her relationship with a man of means. Ostensibly, she is rejecting her lover because she feels stifled by his position in society. But the class differences are metaphor for the quality of the love, with a woman deciding to be with a man who loves her for who she is rather than as an object of affection, merely the focus of a selfish love. She wants to be with the one who doesn't ask her to change. In a role played with wondrous ambiguity, Deneuve leaves the audience (and her entourage in the film) with the mystery of her motivations. Is her return to Charles the easy option? Or not ?



The novel was a best seller.[4][5]

Filming took place in April 1968 and was interrupted by riots in Paris.[6]


Upon its theatrical release, La Chamade received generally positive reviews. In his review in The New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote, "Cavalier may have created a practically perfect screen equivalent of the novelist's prose style."[7] In addition to praising the performances by Deneuve and Piccoli, Canby writes:

La Chamade (literally "the heartbeat") is a movie of technical skill and pure images that capture the textures of things—whitewashed walls, a piece of modern sculpture, cut flowers, flesh tanned in the sun—all of which give reality to a narrative line from which everything nonessential to the affairs of the heart has been refined. The extraordinary thing is that, in this day and age, it not only works but also seems somehow urgent, at least while it is going on.[7]

On the review aggregator web site Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 68% positive audience rating based on 66 ratings.[8]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "La Chamade". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "Locations for La Chamade". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  4. ^ European Notebook: European Notebook By MARC SLONIM. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 21 Nov 1965: BR26.
  5. ^ Invitation To a Parley By PATRICIA MacMANUS. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 13 Nov 1966: 388.
  6. ^ Suzy Says: Only the Beginning Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 30 Apr 1968: b1.
  7. ^ a b Canby, Vincent (July 28, 1969). "Heartbeat (1968)". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "La Chamade". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 

External links[edit]